Group addresses 2 of most common ‘silent killers’ of visionBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Diabetes is a complex condition resulting from the inability of the body to produce insulin, a hormone that processes sugar supplied by the blood so it could be used by the cells to produce energy.
Without enough insulin, there is too much sugar in your blood, which could damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs and as a result, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease and nerve problems in people with diabetes.
Another complication that one should watch out for is the development of diabetes-related eye disease.
Glaucoma is one of these diseases. It is a term used to describe a group of eye diseases which lead to optic nerve damage or even blindness if left untreated. The condition is usually associated with an increase in the pressure inside the eye although its most common type, the open angle glaucoma, develops slowly with no symptoms other than a slow loss of vision which many may mistake as an expected sign of aging.
“There is an association between diabetes and the development of primary open angle glaucoma because they basically affect the same age group. A particular type of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma may be a direct consequence of diabetes-related disease of the retina,” noted Dr. Biboy Martinez, one of the country’s leading experts in glaucoma and VP of the Philippine Glaucoma Society.
Primary open angle glaucoma occurs when inner eye pressure rises because the correct amount of fluid can’t drain out of the eye (the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time) while the neovascular glaucoma, sometimes referred to as “90-day glaucoma,” occurs when new blood vessels grow on the iris (the colored part of the eye), closing off the fluid flow in the eye and raising the eye pressure in such a short period.
A study at the University of Michigan found people with diabetes have a 35 percent higher chance of having glaucoma than people who do not (reason for such higher rates in diabetics is “unknown,” the same study acknowledged).
Martinez said that since eye complications are common with diabetes, it is thus, very important that people with diabetes get their eyes examined on a regular basis—those with type 1 diabetes should visit their eye doctors at most three to five years after diagnosis while visit for those with type 2 diabetes should be done as soon as the diagnosis was confirmed.
“Treatments for glaucoma in diabetes can include special eye drops, laser procedures, medicine and even surgery,” the doctor suggested and added that the PGS in partnership with global eye care and specialty pharmaceutical products provider Allergan, has launched a series of programs, activities and awareness campaigns in local and online communities to spread the word on the adverse effects of glaucoma.
Martinez explained that such campaigns are crucial considering that diabetes-related blindness, in many cases, can be prevented and damage lessened or prevented with early intervention and treatment.
“The moment you notice things like dark spot at the center of viewing, lines and edges that appear distorted or wavy, or seeing spots, ghost-like images, see an eye expert as early intervention is highly recommended because although treatment can delay or possibly prevent further damage, it cannot reverse any damage already done,” the doctor reminded.
Here in the Philippines, one out of five adults (20 percent) is diabetic and as many “as three out of five” are on their way to developing diabetes unless they adopt a healthier lifestyle, according to most recent data from the Philippine Cardiovascular Outcome Study on Diabetes.